Planning for pets’ care after you’re gone (opinion)
DEAR JOAN: My husband and I are preparing our trust. We have more than the average number of cats. Are there any organizations who will find homes for pets whose owners have died? Financial help would be provided. Family members are not an option for various reasons.
— The Waltons Martinez
DEAR WALTONS: I applaud you for thinking ahead. Everybody, no matter their age and health, should think about what will become of their pets if something happened to them. From that good idea, however, it can become complicated. You have a couple of options.
Some rescue groups offer a guardianship program that you can sign up for. In many cases, you only need to make an annual donation to the rescue group after completing the paperwork. However, there could be a limit on the number of pets they’ll take and you can’t designate where the animals will go. The shelter will only try to find them homes as they do with other pets.
I’d encourage you to visit some of the rescue groups and see what they offer.
Another option is to find caretakers yourself and set up a trust fund. I’d suggest meeting with an estate planner or a lawyer who specializes in trusts of this type.
In a trust you can set aside money to pay for the cats’ care, require how they should be cared for and designate a trustee to make sure your wishes are carried out. You can name people you want to take the cats, but you need their assurances they are willing.
You’ll also need to keep in touch with those willing people. Experts recommend checking in with your designees every six months. They might be able to accept the cats now, but circumstances change that could make it impossible for them to keep their promise in the future.
You also can determine whether the trust becomes active when you die or if you should become incapacitated.
It will take some work, but then you can rest easy knowing your pets will have a place to go when they can’t be with you.
Write me, through email or at 175 Lennon Lane, Suite 100, Walnut Creek, 94598. Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris. Read more of her Animal Life columns at http://www.mercurynews.com/animal-life.
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